HONG KONG 2010 Directed by: Barbara Wong Chun-Chun Written by: Barbara Wong Chun-Chun, Lawrence Cheng Produced by: Lawrence Cheng, Barbara Wong Chun-Chun, Gus Liem Cinematography by: Tse Chung-To Editing by: Azrael Chung Wai Chiu Music by: Chun Hung Mak Cast: Jaycee Chan, Fiona Sit, Hayama Go, Patrick Tam, Seli Xian, Bonnie Sin, Barbara Wong Chun-Chun
In BREAK UP CLUB director Barbara Wong plays a director (herself) who attempts to shoot a documentary movie about people breaking up. She arranges an audition where people tell her about how they broke up with someone, and she hands out camcorders so that those with the most original story can shoot footage for her that she can later use for her movie.
Consequently, BREAK UP CLUB mostly consists of (fake) documentary footage featuring Joe, a twentysomething who insists he found a website called Break Up Club promising visitors that it can get them back together with someone they broke up with recently – if they submit another couple’s name to the website that then mysteriously will make this couple break up in return. How this works, nobody knows, just as it remains a secret why the website can only be found when browsing from one specific computer in Joe’s favorite internet café or why the whole idea has no relevance whatsoever for BREAK UP CLUB after thirty minutes into the film.
BREAK UP CLUB is a very conceptual enterprise, a fake film-in-film mockumentary where nothing is real and everything staged. Neither are the sequences featuring Ms. Wong authentic, nor is all the documentary footage real. BREAK UP CLUB is certainly a playful approach, never meant to be real, but it just never works well as it tries to keep up the documentary style throughout while at the same time using multiple camera angles and sources, lots of editing and so forth; in addition the story is an incomprehensible mess and the characters simply uninteresting. No matter what the intentions, BREAK UP CLUB is not exactly clever, is never convincing or really entertaining; it’s juggling around bits and pieces, shakily like an amateur magician who drops it all on the floor sooner or later.
What’s outright annoying however is that the film’s title is a bluff package: the idea of the website, no matter how creative or original, is nothing more than a reason to draw us into the story. As soon as we buy into it, the idea evaporates like hot air and is never part of the film’s story line again.
BREAK UP CLUB is not more than a small, cheeky idea that could have become a very likeable short, but with the decision to develop it into a full length feature it ends up being a confused, hollow and frankly boring film about boring people, and never lives up to its hype or appealing (and misleading) poster artwork. BREAK UP CLUB is not another surprise hit like LOVE IN A PUFF, but just a sheep in sheep’s clothing.
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